Squatters set up home among London's super-rich

Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:26am EST
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By Martina Fuchs

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - As property prices plummet and home repossessions increase, one enterprising group of squatters has solved its housing problem and taken up residence in one of London's most exclusive neighborhoods.

About 20 people aged between 21 and 45 moved into two seven-storey multi-million pound mansions in Park Lane through an open basement door about three months ago.

They now rub shoulders with London's super-rich in a prime location, nestling among sports car showrooms and expensive restaurants and enjoying superb views across Hyde Park.

The group pass their time by playing music, painting and "creating art," according to one of the squatters.

"We haven't heard from the landlord yet, but we hope he is a cool guy and understands our problems and (the) tough situation in London," 27-year-old Martin from South Africa told Reuters, as he left with his two dogs for a morning stroll in the park.

"We are a group of creative artists connecting with like-minded people, we hope to be here for a while," Martin said.

The two premises in 94-95 Park Lane belong to the Duke of Westminster through his property company Grosvenor.

According to the Sunday Times 2008 Rich List, the 57-year-old duke Britain's third-richest man worth 7 billion pounds, behind Russian Roman Abramovich, who owns Chelsea football club, and Indian businessman Lakshmi Mittal.   Continued...

<p>A woman waits outside a house occupied by squatters on Park Lane, in London January 22, 2009. REUTERS/Stephen Hird</p>